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United States v. South Carolina Recycling & Disposal, Inc.

Citation: 14 ELR 20895
No. No. 80-1274-6, 653 F. Supp. 984 at 999/21 ERC 1577/(D.S.C., 08/28/1984) Ruling on 1 defendant's liability

The court rules that a corporation involved in ongoing hazardous substance disposal over a period of years in various ways, including through the disposal activities of one of its officers, and through its leasehold interest in the land on which disposal occurred, and later its sublease to a related disposal company, is liable as an owner and operator of a disposal site under § 107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The court notes that defendant Columbia Organic Chemical Company (COCC) is a "person" and the disposal site a "facility" at which hazardous substances were "disposed" and "released" under CERCLA § 107(a). The court rules that a lessee is an "owner" under § 107(a). That it subleased the portion of land used for disposal to another company does not insulate it from liability; indeed, it strengthens the case since those leasing land to others for hazardous activites can be liable as owners under the common law. The court rules that COCC also is an "operator" under § 107(a). The company was directly involved in hazardous waste disposal for a period, a vice president of the company in the open exercise of his corporate authority conducted a hazardous waste disposal business, and the company would in any event be liable under the theory of joint venture. The court then rules that by virtue of disposal activities after the termination of its lease, COCC is a person who arranged for disposal of its hazardous substances at a site owned by another, and a hazardous substance transporter under § 107(a). The court holds COCC, like other defendants earlier found liable, 14 ELR 20272, jointly and severally liable for government response costs incurred at the Bluff Road site.

Counsel are listed at 14 ELR 20272.